@=@= Don Airey ------ inteview, biography, discography, photos, news
Don Airey on stage with the Perfect Strangers band (Trodica di Morrovalle, Italy. August 04, 2005)
Don Airey, keyboardist extraordinaire, has been a major player on the heavy rock scene for nearly 25 years, having worked on well over a hundred albums, and been a member of countless bands.
He has also made his mark as an arranger and composer in the commercial field, and is about to embark on a new chapter of his career as a solo artist with the release on 121 Music of his album, K2.
Don Airey is currently the keyboard player in Deep Purple. Apart from writing, recording and touring with them he also spends time recording with and for other artists.
Born in Sunderland, N.E. England, Don’s musical talents were forged with an amalgam of classical training, (taking all the piano grades), a lively interest in his local rock and jazz scene, and regular paid gigs playing Hammond organ for the cabaret turns at the numerous Working Men’s Clubs in the locale.
He continued his musical education by taking a degree at Nottingham University and a diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music, and turned pro in 1972 taking his own band round the world, playing on cruise liners, to residencies in Africa, Florida, and the Far-East.
Moving to London, in 1974 he entered the world of rock via Cozy Powell’s band Hammer, which had three hit singles, and a year of touring. When this petered out, he moved onto a more esoteric level with fusion outfit.
Three albums followed, Strange New Flesh, Electric Savage, and Wardance plus a chart-topping collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Variations (still to be heard introducing ITV’s The South Bank Show).
In 1977 Don contributed keys to Gary Moore’s first solo outing, Back on the Streets, providing the arrangement for a tune called Biscayne Blues, which Phil Lynott’s lyrics transformed into Parisienne Walkways, a top ten hit all over the world.
When Colosseum II sadly folded in 1978, Don briefly joined Black Sabbath, playing keys on the album Never Say Die, before answering Cozy Powell’s call to fly to New York and join him and the legendary Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow.
Two hit albums, Down to Earth, and Difficult to Cure followed, plus worldwide hit singles Since You Been Gone, All Night Long, and I Surrender, with three years of world tours.
On a break in 1980 Don played on Ozzy Osbourne’s first album since leaving Sabbath, Blizzard of Oz, and it was Don’s gothic keyboard intro to Mr Crowley, that helped to break the band on American radio.
At the conclusion of the Rainbow world tour of 1981, Don flew to LA and climbed aboard the Ozzy crazy train staying for another three year stint, that saw the albums Bark at the Moon, and Speak of the Devil emerge.
Returning to the UK in 1985, he played diverse sessions (including Gary Moore’s Out in the Fields) before flying to Vancouver to add keyboards to an album that would become one of the biggest selling rock albums ever, Whitesnake’s Whitesnake 87, spawning three world-wide top ten singles, In the Still of the Night (complete with monumental 2 minute keyboard instrumental), Here I go Again, and Is this Love.
Don returned to touring in 1987 joining Jethro Tull for their European and US jaunts. Securing a solo deal with MCA, he quit Tull in Jan 88 to compose K2, which was recorded in the summer with Gary Moore, Cozy Powell, Chris Thompson and Colin Blunstone. It had a limited release in Japan and Germany only, in 1989. Meanwhile its author had fled back to Los Angeles to begin work on the next Whitesnake album, Slip of the Tongue.
Returning to London in the autumn he joined the pre-production rehearsals for Gary Moore’s new blues project. Playing Hammond, and arranging all strings and brass, the album Still got the Blues went on to become the biggest selling blues album ever, producing three hits : King of the Blues, Still Got the Blues, and Walking by Myself, plus one year’s worth of touring.
In 1991, Don set up Don Airey Music, which over the years has provided corporate IDs, soundtracks etc. for the likes of DHL, BBC, McDonalds, Grants Whiskey, PDSA , etc.
He continued to tour and record, albeit more sporadically, with Brian May, Cozy Powell, Tony Iommi, Katrina & the Waves, Uli Roth, and in 1996 joined the reformed Electric Light Orchestra on their year-long world tour.
In 1997 he coaxed Colin Blunstone out of retirement and onto a sell-out club and theatre tour of the U.K. and Europe. Even more unlikely, he flew to Dublin in April where he arranged and conducted Love Shine a Light for Katrina & the Waves, to win the Eurovision Song Contest for the Royaume Uni.
In 1998 Don produced Colin Blunstone’s critically acclaimed comeback album The Light Inside, and toured with Joe Satriani’s G3. He then joined a Whitesnake re-incarnation with old chums Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody, The Snakes, that has toured constantly ever since.
1998 Don equally collaborated with Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin, and guitar wiz Dario Mollo, on metal album project The Cage, released in Europe
K2 Tales of Triumph and Tragedy1999 will see the release of a re-mastered and re-packaged K2 Tales of Triumph and Tragedy on 121 Music plus a tour starting in May with his own band, playing not only music from the album, but past hits celebrating 25 years in the business.
Don came to Purple’s rescue mid 2001 to help out for an injured Jon Lord, who has since retired, with Don recording the new album with Deep Purple as the band’s permanent keyboard player.
"The thought crossed my mind a few years ago 'If Jon retired...?.... Naaaah ....... They'd never ask me'. So when he did and they did, I jumped at the chance and it exceeded my expectations from the first number I played with them, Woman from Tokyo, at the Skanderborg Festival in 2001. Touring Russia and the US last year was a highlight and recording a new album with the band in Royaltone Studios LA, January 2003, the sort of experience I thought I'd said goobye to years ago - Long may it continue!"
Don has joined this legendary band on a full time basis since January 2003.
Don lives in British South-West Cambridgeshire, with his wife Doris, and their three children, where he runs his own pre-production and project studio.
Source: Don Airey website
Don Airey on stage with the Perfect Strangers band
Trodica di Morrovalle, Italy (August 04, 2005 )
Perfect Strangers (this on-stage) line-up :
Valeriano Prati (vocal), Francesco Caporaletti (bass), Roberto Basili (guitar), Antonio Guidotti (drum).
Managed by Ivano Bosello Enterprises.
P.A. System/Service supplied by Ermanno Antonelli.
Don Airey on stage
to be continued ....
work in progress
“Sunderland England, a Northern industrial town by the sea. Quite a tough place to grow up in, but I was part of a close-knit family of five children and looking back now it all seems rather idyllic in many ways. Though I haven't lived there for 25 years I'm still in touch with school friends, and of course still follow the football team !
How, when and why did you begin in the music?
“Both my parents played piano, both my brothers are musical (Keith is guitarist for Tom Jones, Paul runs Hughes & Kettner's international operation) and I was sent to lessons from the age of 5. I took a lot of grades, but at the age of thirteen started my own jazz trio, and eventually started playing with beat groups round Sunderland. Some great musicians came out of that place incidentally - Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics who I was at school with, Procol Harum guitarist Mick Grabham, Elton's original
drummer Nigel Olson, and of course the great filmakers Ridley and Tony Scott.
When did you discover that you loved Heavy metal / Hard rock?
“When I heard "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles.
Which were your influences when you began in the music and actually? ?
“Chopin, Schumann, J.S. Bach, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Mozart, Duke Ellington and last but not least, my father.
I would like to know the best moments in your career and the anecdotes.?
“Two concerts stand out in my mind, the first was playing with Rainbow at the Budokan in 1980, the second with Ozzy at Madison Square Gdns in 1984. I remember thinking on both occasions how glad I was my father made me practise when I was young.
Sitting quietly on a beach with Ozzy in Hawaii, drinking a beer, he suddenly said he fancied jumping off the rock at the end of the bay. As we walked towards it, people began to recognise him and by the time we got to the top of the rock there were about 200 crazy people following us up. The rock was much higher than it had looked from where we had been sitting, much much higher, but with the gathering crowd, the only way out for us was by jumping at least thirty feet into the water. I went first and surfaced to see the figure of Ozzy hurtling towards me. I dived again. Next time I surfaced the air was full of about 150 bodies - they were jumping off the rock after us like lemmings ! Then they all produced pens and paper, and Ozzy spent the next half-hour signing autographs underwater ! - Great days.
advanced technologic sound magazine
2005 August issue 140
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